Cornell University’s Johnson Museum of Art to terminate G4S contract in victory for student organizing

Cornell University’s Herman F. Johnson Museum of Art is terminating its contract with G4S, the British-Danish security conglomerate that runs private prisons in the United States and provides control rooms, equipment and security services to Israeli prisons holding Palestinian prisoners, reported the Cornell Sun.

Black Students United at Cornell University campaigned for the contract to be cancelled due to G4S’ involvement in the private prison industry. The victory follows the divestment of the University of California and Columbia University from G4S, following campaigns led by Black students and prison divestment campaigns against the investment of their universities in the private prison business.

“We would also like to take this moment to announce that we have just received notice from Acting President Kotlikoff that the Johnson Museum will no longer hold a contract with G4S, the oppressive securities company linked to the private prison industry, both domestic and abroad. Incarceration across the globe has wreaked havoc on communities of color. Any step the University takes in distancing itself from that brutal system is a step in the right direction,” said Black Students United in a statement.

G4S is a major target of prison divestment movements targeting the private corporations profiting from mass imprisonment in the United States, especially of Black people and Black youth. It is also subject to an international call for boycott, by Palestinian prisoners and Palestinian movements, because of its involvement in the imprisonment of Palestinians, Israeli checkpoints, and the siege of Gaza – G4S provides security equipment for Israel’s Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing to Gaza. Samidoun in New York City is working with CUNY Prison Divest and NYC Students for Justice in Palestine to organize a prison divestment speakout on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, that will highlight the role of G4S, Corrections Corporation of America and other private corporations in global mass incarceration.

The Black4Palestine statement, signed by over 1,000 Black organizers, activists, artists and intellectuals, highlighted G4S as a target of particular importance for struggle by Black and Palestinian movements for justice and liberation.

G4S recently announced that it was planning to close down its youth incarceration business in the US as well as selling off its Israeli subsidy, labeled as “reputationally damaging.” G4S has lost millions of dollars in contracts and investments due to its role in private imprisonment in the United States and in providing support for Israeli occupation and apartheid. However, both the US prison divestment movement and the Palestinian movement have emphasized that it is critical to continue to target G4S which profits daily from ongoing imprisonment, oppression and injustice in the US, Palestine, and internationally.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network congratulates and salutes Black Students United at Cornell University and the leadership of Black student movements across the United States in confronting and challenging mass incarceration and prison profiteering, and the complicity of US universities in structures of racism and oppression.